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Press Release, publish date: 19.10.2023

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The Lightning Reach portal quickly connects financially vulnerable people with a range of support from multiple UK providers, (R) founder Ren Yi Hooi

Lightning Reach - a tech for good startup dedicated to simplifying access to grants and vital support for those in need - has raised £1 million in its latest funding round, including investors such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Bank of America-backed Growth Impact Fund, a social investment fund run by Big Issue Invest and UnLtd.


Founded during the pandemic by female entrepreneur Ren Yi Hooi, Lightning Reach has registered more than 60,000 people in the UK and facilitated over £6 million in grant funding via its financial support portal,


On average £1,000 per successful applicant has been awarded directly by its partners. Lightning Reach works with charities like the Royal British Legion and Teaching Staff Trust, local authorities and housing associations including Lambeth Council and PA Housing, and financial institutions including TSB.

Notable investors in this latest funding round include the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Treebeard Trust and Fredericks Foundation - a strong coalition of social change foundations experienced in addressing poverty-related issues. They are joined by the Bank of America-backed Growth Impact Fund run by Big Issue Invest and UnLtd, along with a diverse group of individuals and renowned tech investors.


Other individual investors and sector experts joining the investment include Mary McKenna (exited Govtech entrepreneur and UKBAA (UK Business Angels Associations) Angel Investor of the Year), Shefali Roy (ex-COO of TrueLayer) and Kiran Sharma of First Look, Jag Singh (partner at Europe's leading angel fund Angel Invest and former political strategist), Dhruv Patel OBE (former City of London Common Councilman and Chair of City Bridge Trust), James Shanahan (former CEO of Revolut Singapore), Timothy Lee (former Sequoia partner and exited founder) and more. They join existing investors including Chris Adelsbach (another former UKBAA Angel Investor of the Year) and Techstars.

Gareth Oakley, CEO of Cash Access UK, has also joined the Lightning Reach board as Chair following this funding round, while investor Mary McKenna has been appointed as a Director.


This recent funding will allow Lightning Reach to significantly scale its platform over the next two years. The company plans to onboard more individuals and partner organisations, expand its resource network for more comprehensive support, and introduce new features to further streamline user experiences. 


Lightning Reach aims to help millions of people unlock the unclaimed billions in funding and well-being support to foster lasting financial resilience for those in need. With reports suggesting there are over 17.5m financially vulnerable people in the UK and that over £19bn in funding is unclaimed in the UK each year - Lightning Reach is bridging a gap in the system which could quickly unlock vital help for many in need.


The Lightning Reach portal makes it easy for people to find and apply for a personalised range of support, streamlining access to a complex ecosystem of grants, benefits and other essential resources. Its innovative platform provides a one-stop solution empowering individuals to check their eligibility for wide-ranging support schemes via a simple, fast and secure online platform, while reducing repetitive form filling and paperwork for applications. 


It has enabled some of its partner organisations to shorten their average turnaround time from 4 weeks to 3 days, save up to 70% in administration time and reduce fraud - using innovative technologies like open banking and ID verification to enable secure and verified applications. Its platform can be used by charities, local councils, housing associations and corporations (e.g. utilities, banks) that offer support to vulnerable clients.

Dense Holle, Head of Social Investment at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: "Lightning Reach provides an easy-to-use, cost-effective, and scalable access route to financial grants and hardship support for individuals who are in the greatest need. JRF is delighted to be part of Lightning Reach's first institutional funding round, alongside other UK trusts and foundations."


Ben Tiplady, Investment Manager at Big Issue Invest, added: “Since we first spoke to Ren Hooi the Founder and CEO of Lightning Reach, we quickly identified her as being aligned with our mission of tackling inequality in the UK and the Lightning Reach platform has massive potential to make the support discovery and application process easier for people experiencing financial hardship. People who are in a financial crisis don't have time to research multiple programmes to find out if they are eligible for them. Organisations can reach a much wider audience for their programmes when they work together.” 


Ren Yi Hooi, Founder and CEO of Lightning Reach, said: "We're delighted to have closed our funding round with a brilliant group of investors who are not only aligned with our social mission but bring real value to our core business with their diverse set of expertise across financial inclusion, technology, and systems change. 


“I'm grateful to everyone involved for their belief in Lightning Reach. We’re here to enable organisations to increase their reach and streamline their support to people facing financial vulnerability, and would love to collaborate with anyone working in this space.”

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